Silicon Valley’s top firms are embracing diversity

September 30, 2017 by  
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Google, HP and Facebook echo the #YesWeCode mission by championing minorities and women in the workplace — but there’s still room for innovation.

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Silicon Valley’s top firms are embracing diversity

San Francisco’s Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

September 29, 2017 by  
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A symphony of strange and haunting music made from the waves can be heard at the tip of a jetty in San Francisco. Part sculpture, part musical instrument, the Wave Organ is an unusual land art installation that harnesses the rhythms of the water. Created by Exploratorium artists Peter Richards and George Gonzalez, the wave-activated sound sculpture is set atop the salvaged remains of a demolished cemetery and is one of the city’s best hidden gems. Installed in 1986, the Wave Organ is a somewhat obscure landmark, often overlooked due to its hard-to-find location at the end of a jetty east of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Making the trek out there, however, is worth it. Surrounded by stunning 360-degree views of the San Francisco bay, the environmental artwork harnesses the pulse of the sea through 25 PVC and concrete pipes located at various elevations that transmit the sounds of crashing waves and gurgling water to elevated openings for listening. Related: Incredible ‘Sea Organ’ uses ocean waves to make beautiful music The Wave Organ is best heard during high tide, but can still be enjoyed at other times of the day though the gurgling rhythms will be much quieter. The music of the bay, which is made by waves slapping against and pushed through the pipes, is relatively subtle. Visitors will need to sit and let their ears attune to the environment to fully enjoy the performance. Carved granite and marble salvaged from the demolished crypts of the city’s former Laurel Hill Cemetery provide plenty of seating. Times for high tides can be checked here . + Exploratorium Images via Wikimedia , Shutterstock

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Elon Musk wants to build a rocket that can fly you from New York to Shanghai in 30 minutes

September 29, 2017 by  
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Imagine being able to travel from New York to Shanghai in just 30 minutes. If Elon Musk succeeds with his newest plan, a trip of this kind will soon be possible. During Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. , the entrepreneur revealed his ambition to build the “BFR” – a rocket that could transport anyone anywhere on the planet within 60 minutes. Musk, who has long dreamed of founding a human colony on Mars , is willing to use his own personal assets to fund the futuristic technology. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); LIVE: Elon Musk reveals his latest plans for colonizing Mars. Posted by Bloomberg Technology on Thursday, September 28, 2017 “If we are going to places like Mars , why not Earth?” said Musk at the 68th International Astronautical Congress, which took place in Adelaide, Australia. Towards the end of Musk’s presentation, an animation played on the screen behind the tech entrepreneur, showing dozens of people getting on a high-speed ferry in New York, boarding the BRF on a platform in the water, then jetting to Shanghai in about 30 minutes. Musk wrote on Instagram: ”Fly to most places on Earth in under 30 mins and anywhere in under 60. Cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft . Forgot to mention that.” Reportedly, the BFR will contain 40 cabins capable of “ferrying” approximately 100 people at a time. The 46-year-old has admitted in the past that “the major fundamental flaw” in his plans is the financing aspect. With a net worth of approximately $21 billion, the entrepreneur isn’t averse to using his own personal assets to develop the technology. However, money for the BFR will also be raised via contracts with commercial satellite operators, who can use the BFR to carry satellites to orbit, as well as crew and cargo to the International Space Station . Related: Elon Musk sets tentative date for Tesla Semi truck unveiling Musk is also ambitious to send an unmanned “Red Dragon” spacecraft to the red planet in 2018. Though the initial plan has changed, the new goal has the craft landing on Mars in 2022, followed by crewed missions in 2024. Via Bloomberg Images via TEDx , Pixabay

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Elon Musk wants to build a rocket that can fly you from New York to Shanghai in 30 minutes

SF Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

September 29, 2017 by  
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A symphony of strange and haunting music made from the waves can be heard at the tip of a jetty in San Francisco. Part sculpture, part musical instrument, the Wave Organ is an unusual land art installation that harnesses the rhythms of the water. Created by Exploratorium artists Peter Richards and George Gonzalez, the wave-activated sound sculpture is set atop the salvaged remains of a demolished cemetery and is one of the city’s best hidden gems. Installed in 1986, the Wave Organ is a somewhat obscure landmark, often overlooked due to its hard-to-find location at the end of a jetty east of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Making the trek out there, however, is worth it. Surrounded by stunning 360-degree views of the San Francisco bay, the environmental artwork harnesses the pulse of the sea through 25 PVC and concrete pipes located at various elevations that transmit the sounds of crashing waves and gurgling water to elevated openings for listening. Related: Incredible ‘Sea Organ’ uses ocean waves to make beautiful music The Wave Organ is best heard during high tide, but can still be enjoyed at other times of the day though the gurgling rhythms will be much quieter. The music of the bay, which is made by waves slapping against and pushed through the pipes, is relatively subtle. Visitors will need to sit and let their ears attune to the environment to fully enjoy the performance. Carved granite and marble salvaged from the demolished crypts of the city’s former Laurel Hill Cemetery provide plenty of seating. Times for high tides can be checked here . Via Exploratorium Images via Wikimedia , Shutterstock

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SF Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

European parliament bans Monsanto from entering

September 29, 2017 by  
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Monsanto recently refused to be present at a hearing in which the European parliament planned to dig into allegations the agrochemical company unduly influenced studies into glyphosate’s safety, according to The Guardian. The European parliament wasn’t too happy with that – and just banned Monsanto from entering parliament. The agriculture and environment committees of the European parliament had set up a hearing for October 11, at which academics, campaigners, and regulators were to be present – but Monsanto decided not to come. The hearing is expected to go over allegations the company influenced regulatory studies into the safety of a key ingredient in their best-selling product RoundUp . Angry, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) subsequently banned Monsanto lobbyists . The Guardian reports this is the first instance of MEPs utilizing new rules to withdraw access for businesses that disregard summons to hearings or inquiries. Related: California adds Monsanto’s glyphosate to list of chemicals known to cause cancer The leaders of major parliamentary blocks supported the ban in a vote, according to a spokesperson for European parliament president Antonio Tajani, who also said, “One has to assume it is effective immediately,” even as officials need to work through a formal process. Under the ban, Monsanto officials will not be able to go to committee meetings, meet MEPs, or use digital resources in Strasbourg or Brussles on parliament premises, according to The Guardian. Green Party president Philippe Lamberts said, “Those who ignore the rules of democracy also lose their rights as a lobbyist in the European parliament. U.S. corporations must also accept the democratic control function of the parliament. Monsanto cannot escape this.” The vote comes before a decision on whether or not to re-license glyphosate later this year. Philip Miller, Monsanto vice president, said in a letter to MEPs, “We have observed with increasing alarm the politicization of the EU procedure on the renewal of glyphosate, a procedure which should be scientific but which in many respects has been hijacked by populism.” One expert World Health Organization panel has linked glyphosate to cancer , while another said it was safe for public use. According to The Guardian, Monsanto spends around €300,000 to €400,000 – or around $354,690 to $472,920 – on lobbying in Brussels. Via The Guardian Images via Die Grünen Kärnten on Flickr and BUND Bundesverband on Flickr

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Hundreds of organisms hitch a ride from Japan to Oregon on waves of plastic trash

September 29, 2017 by  
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Japanese marine animals have hitched a ride all the way to the United States with unlikely help from plastic garbage. The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami dumped debris into the ocean , and now, several years later, scientists have recorded almost 300 marine animal species showing up in Hawaii and North America, riding on hundreds of crates, buoys, vessels, and trash. Scientists didn’t think organisms passively drifted on debris across the ocean, according to marine scientist John Chapman of Oregon State University . He said, “This has turned out to be one of the biggest, unplanned, natural experiments in marine biology , perhaps in history.” You knew plastic trash was polluting the oceans, but you probably didn’t know it was transporting non-native species across them. Neither did many scientists, who were surprised to discover Japanese species landing alive in North America and Hawaii. Researchers didn’t expect organisms to live through the trip across the North Pacific Ocean – and many species have lived four or more years longer than any previous records of organisms living on ocean rafts. Related: Japanese sculpture memorializes 18,000 people dead or missing after the 2011 earthquake In the beginning, wood released in the natural disasters showed up in Oregon with shipworms inside, but after 2014, wood landings plummeted, and researchers realized non-biodegradable trash like plastic, styrofoam, and fiberglass was allowing non-native species to travel and survive for so long. So far, scientists haven’t found any Japanese species established on the West Coast, but Chapman said that can take years to happen. He said, “One thing this event has taught us is that some of these organisms can be extraordinarily resilient…It would not surprise me if there were species from Japan that are out there living along the Oregon coast. In fact, it would surprise me if there weren’t.” Oregon State University marine scientist Jessica Miller said out of the species that arrived in 2017, almost 20 percent were capable of reproducing. James Carlton of Williams College , who was the lead author on a study published today in Science , said, “These vast quantities of non-biodegradable debris, potentially acting as novel ocean transport vectors, are of increasing concern given the vast economic cost and environmental impacts documented from the proliferation of marine invasive species around the world.” Chapman and Miller were co-authors of the study, along with six other scientists from institutions around the United States. Via Oregon State University Images via Oregon State University on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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Tesla is shipping hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico

September 29, 2017 by  
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Tesla is stepping in to aid Puerto Rico in its recovery from Hurricane Maria by sending hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to the American Commonwealth, whose 3.5 million citizens still do not have access to electricity. Because full power is not expected to be restored for months, the Powerwall energy storage systems, which can be paired with solar panels, could prove to be vital tools as Puerto Rico and its partners work to restore safety and stability to the island. First introduced in 2015, the Powerwall is Tesla’s home-based battery system, which is able to store energy captured during the day from solar panels and enables solar energy to be used even at night. Some of the Powerwall battery systems have already arrived in Puerto Rico , with more on the way. Tesla employees are on the island, working to install the systems and additional solar panels and repair existing solar panels. They are also collaborating with local groups to determine the best locations for these battery systems to be implemented. In addition, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk has personally donated $250,000 to the relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Related: Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy Prior to its efforts in Puerto Rico, Tesla had assisted in the evacuation efforts in Florida as Hurricane Irma approached the peninsula. After receiving a request from a Tesla owner who wished to evacuate from their home in Florida, but who was concerned about the car’s ability to go the distance, Tesla released a software update which extended battery range. Ultimately, Tesla decided to extend the battery range for all Model S and Model X cars from 60-70 kilowatt hour to 75 kwh. Via Fortune Images via Tesla , Steve Juverton , and Walmart

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Tesla is shipping hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico

California may ban gas and diesel-powered cars by 2030

September 29, 2017 by  
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Following in the footsteps of France, the UK, and Scotland, the state of California is now considering passing a ban on the sale of new gas and diesel-powered vehicles. The initiative, which is supported by the state’s Air Resources Board, is being considered to curb carbon emissions and, as a result, help to prevent climate change from worsening. During an interview with Bloomberg last week, Mary Nichols, the chairman of the California Air Resources Board, confirmed the rumors. She said that after learning China is considering a similar ban, it became a matter of “when” the state would adopt similar measures, not “if.” Nichols said, “I’ve gotten messages from the governor asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’ The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California .” The southwestern state already set the goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent of the 1990 levels by 2050. As Elektrek reports, that would require replacing virtually all combustion engines with sustainable alternatives by the year 2040. However, there’s no policy mandating gas and diesel-powered cars be phased out, which is why the state is considering the ban. Related: China announces plan to ban sales of fossil fuel cars and shift focus to EVs So far, no specific timeline has been set. According to Nichols, however, 2030 is not “out of the question.” She said, “There are people who believe, including who work for me, that you could stop all sales of new internal- combustion cars by 2030. Some people say 2035, some people say 2040. It’s awfully hard to predict any of that with precision, but it doesn’t appear to be out of the question.” There are presently more than 300,000 electric vehicles on California roads today. And every year, the state adds approximately 2 million more. If a ban was to be enforced, not only would the automotive industry take a hit, a new standard would be presented for other US states to uphold. Via Elektrek Images via Pixabay , Wikimedia Commons

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Barrel-shaped wooden pod retreat in France inspired by real life ‘bird charmer’

September 29, 2017 by  
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Mr Plocq’s Caballon is a beautiful 160-square-foot wooden pod located on the banks of the Loire river estuary. The pod’s unique design was inspired by the life of real-life bird charmer Émile Plocq, who supposedly built his own boat to follow migrating birds to Africa. Architects Aurélie Poirrier, Igor-Vassili Pouchkarevtch-Dragoche, and Vincent O’Connor created the barrel-shaped retreat by combining techniques used in naval and airplane carpentry, resulting in a fun boat-like hull topped with a transparent “cockpit” shell. The architectural team designed the pod for the local “Imaginary Nights” celebration, an annual event hosted by tourism board, Loirestu . Every year, the festival chooses a fun movable housing concept to be used as a guest retreat located along the Loire estuary in the west of France. This year, Mr Plocq’s Caballon’s inventive backstory, along with its great compact design , earned the pod its place in the event. Related: Egg-shaped GreenPod office lets you work from almost anywhere The tiny pod ‘s barrel shape was strategic to optimize the interior space despite its compact volume . The design basically comprises a ship-like wooden hull on the bottom, topped by a transparent cockpit partially covered by white canvas. Access to the interior is by a double swing door that opens up vertically as the steps fold out to the ground. There are two private areas in the interior, the bedroom and the bathroom, which are separated by a wooden door. The bedroom is located in the cockpit area, whose transparent glazing allows guests to sleep under the stars. The remaining hull space is the small bathroom with a sink and dry toilet , which is reached by a hollow 360° rotating door inserted into double wall behind the bed. The innovative “shower airlock” door allows guests ultimate privacy when turned inwards towards the bathroom. + Aurélie Poirrier + Igor-Vassili Pouchkarevtch-Dragoche + Vincent O’Connor Via Archdaily Photography by Corentin Schieb , Aurélie Poirrier

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Rocks discovered in Canada hold the oldest evidence of life

September 29, 2017 by  
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3.95 billion-year-old rocks could offer the oldest evidence we’ve found for life on Earth . A team led by the University of Tokyo found graphite in Labrador, Canada that they think is biogenic, or produced by living organisms. They contend this is the oldest evidence of life, as opposed to microfossils found earlier in Quebec , saying the dating process used in the latter was highly controversial. In March, the journal Nature published the findings of an international team of researchers who’d found fossils in Quebec that they said could be between 3.77 and 4.28 billion years old. Now, nine scientists at institutions in Japan say they’ve actually found the oldest evidence of life on this planet, and it’s in 3.95 billion-year-old rocks. Related: World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion years old These researchers found graphite in sedimentary rocks. Tsuyoshi Komiya of the University of Tokyo said, “Our samples are also the oldest supracrustal rocks preserved on Earth.” Phys.org pointed out the Quebec fossils were found in a similar formation. The Japan team measured the isotope composition of the graphite to find it was biogenic, although the identity of the organisms that produced the graphite or their appearance are mysteries. Komiya said the team could work to identify the organisms by scrutinizing “other isotopes such as nitrogen, sulphur, and iron of the organic matter and accompanied materials.” They can also analyze the rock’s chemical composition to try and figure out the organisms’ environment . Other researchers, like geochemist Daniele Pinti of the University of Quebec at Montreal, seem impressed by the new team’s findings and process. He told CBC News, “For the moment, it looks very convincing.” Phys.org said that should the discovery be accurate, it would mean life sprung up on Earth a geological second after the planet formed around 4.5 billion years ago. Nature published the new study this week. Via Phys.org and CBC News Images via Wikimedia Commons and Tashiro, Takayuki, et al.

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